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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Beast Within [Blu-ray]

 

(Philippe Mora, 1982)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: MGM / United Artists

Video: Shout! Factory / Arrow Films

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' / Region 'B' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:38:26.400 / 1:38:24.690

Disc Size: 23,440,381,696 bytes / 41,803,232,128 bytes

Feature Size: 23,018,532,864 bytes / 30,194,464,128 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.98 Mbps / 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 11 / 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: December 17th, 2013 / May 12th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2043 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2043 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio
English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

English, none

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary with director Philippe Mora and Actor Paul Clemens

• Audio Commentary with screenwriter Tom Holland

• Theatrical Trailer (1:28)

• Radio Spots (1:02)

 

New audio commentary with director Philippe Mora moderated by author Calum Waddell
I Was a Teenage Cicada: The Making of The Beast Within – An in-depth look back at Philippe Mora’s creature feature classic featuring new interviews with writer Tom Holland, actors Paul Clemens, John Dennis Johnston, Katherine Moffat and effects wizard Garry Elmendorf (45:43)
Storyboarding The Beast – An all-new animated featurette in which Philippe Mora discusses the film’s journey from storyboard to screen (13:29)
Image Gallery – Including rare production stills from the private collection of star Paul Clemens plus new photographs of various special effects props (4:42)
Original Trailer (1:27)
Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach
Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Lee Gambin, author of Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film plus a contemporary article on the film’s production, all illustrated with original stills and artwork.

 

Bitrate:

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Description: A teenager is experiencing growing pains of a most shocking kind in this exciting, tense and all-too-real story of a human-into monster transformation.

18-year-old Michael MacCleary (the progeny of an unholy union between his mother and a swamp beast) is on the verge of becoming a man. And as the inherited evil in his blood gnaws at his soul, Michael must return to the swamp to uncover the terrifying identity of his father: before his nasty natural tendencies force him to feed on the locals! Starring Ronny Cox (Robocop), Bibi Besch (Star Trek II), Paul Clemens (Communion) L.Q. Jones (The Wild Bunch) and R.G. Armstrong (Race With The Devil).

 

 

The Film:

Bibi Besch and Ronny Cox are honeymooning in Mississippi (which may have been their first mistake) when someone or something with hairy legs rapes Besch. Seventeen years later their son, Paul Clemens, is not the kind of kid you'd like to introduce to your daughter. Matter of fact, he's weird and not feeling too well, so Mom and Dad take him back to Mississippi to see whether his problems are related to that hairy thing we met in reel one. They are, of course, and the teen soon transforms (in some disgustingly effective cheap effects by Tom Burman) into a giant insect creature that roams the area, ripping the limbs off passersby. Written by Tom Holland, who would go on to write and direct FRIGHT NIGHT and CHILD'S PLAY, the script does a nice job of translating the awkwardness of adolescence into a horrifying event. Australian director Philippe Mora (THE HOWLING III) concentrates on exploiting the creepy atmospherics of the Deep South. A strong cast of veteran character actors (Cox, R.G. Armstrong, Luke Askew, and L.Q. Jones) lends credibility to the outrageous premise. Made on location in Raymond, Mississippi, and produced by THE OMEN's Harvey Bernhard.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Tom Burman's innovative prosthetic special effects (used to greater effect in later horror films) are the saving grace of The Beast Within. The premise concerns a couple honeymooning in Mississippi. Caroline (Bibi Besch) is brutally raped by a hairy, sub-human monster and gives birth to a child named Michael (Paul Clemens), who appears normal until he hits his teens. At 17, Michael begins to feel strange, and his parents take him back to Mississippi to find out if his problems are related to Caroline's long-ago rape. Once in Mississippi, Michael transforms into a ravenous insect-like creature that roams the countryside, disemboweling innocent victims and feasting on their torsos.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Beast Within looks pleasing on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory - another in their line of marginal, but effective horror-genre efforts from 30-odd years ago.  The image quality is super clean and crisp via the single-layered transfer. Colors are bright, skin tones appear warm and there is frequent depth exhibited.  Contrast is layered with effective black levels. There was no noise in the darker sequences (which are very dark - notably the beginning) and overall a strong presentation is offered by the disc.

 

Arrow advances upon the Shout! Factory video transfer rendering theirs to a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. Visuals crisp up and get noticeably tighter. Depending on how discerning your eyes, or system, is the improvement varies but is definitely there.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

Audio :

Also an adept lossless audio via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo track at 2043 kbps. There are effects that have intense aggression producing a deep response and the score by Les Baxter (X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, Panic in the Year Zero, US version of Baron Blood) is well supported. There are no subtitles offered on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

 

Very similar audio on the Arrow - lossless, stereo and sounding clean and crisp. But the UK disc offers optional English subtitles - and it is region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Two commentaries, the first with director Philippe Mora and actor Paul Clemens focusing on details of certain scenes and overall production and characterization and a second with screenwriter Tom Holland advancing concepts of the story. There is also a theatrical trailer and superfluous Radio Spot.

 

A new commentary from director Philippe Mora moderated by author Calum Waddell. There is also some new video supplements including the 45-minute I Was a Teenage Cicada: The Making of The Beast Within which includes an in-depth look back at Philippe Mora’s creature feature classic featuring new interviews with writer Tom Holland, actors Paul Clemens, John Dennis Johnston, Katherine Moffat and effects wizard Garry Elmendorf. Excellent. Storyboarding The Beast spends 13-minutes in an all-new animated featurette in which Mora discusses the film’s journey from storyboard to screen. a 5-minute image gallery includes rare production stills from the private collection of star Paul Clemens plus new photographs of various special effects props. There is an original trailer, the package has a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach and a liner notes collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Lee Gambin, author of Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film plus a contemporary article on the film’s production, all illustrated with original stills and artwork.

 

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Another extreme (almost to goofy proportions) 80's horror to 1080P from Shout! Factory. The Beast Within can push the limits but stays together long enough to grab a small niche within the genre. The fine 'parental' performances lend some credibility - and a heck of a substantial supporting cast. The Blu-ray produces a fine presentation - certainly superior to many of the older VHS and DVD representation of the past. Quite an odd ride for a restless popcorn-infused Friday night.

 

The film remains oddly compelling and it seems the more complete Blu-ray edition belongs to Arrow (again!) It's a pleasure to delve into such a complete, professional Blu-ray package - Arrow's dedication is consistently impressive! 

Gary Tooze

December 10th, 2013

May 6th, 2014

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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